On a hillside in Chittenden, VT, a 104-year-old family farm surrounded by a forest of maples has earned the second annual “Fantastic Farmer” title and an award of $5,000 from the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund at the VT Community Foundation.

Jenna Baird of Baird Farm Maple was chosen to receive this special award for her commitment to sustainable agriculture, land-use diversity and environmental stewardship. Baird, her partner Jacob Powsner and extended family also raise Christmas trees and cut flowers as well as host a local beef cattle operation.

“This award lifts up the work of farmers in our rural Vermont economy. Oftentimes that work goes unseen, so we feel this award is so important because it celebrates that real food comes from real farms,” said Baird. “This award will be put to good use so that on our farm we can continue to make and share our food and products with Vermonters and tourists alike!”

To see a video highlighting Baird Farm Maple, visit tinyurl.com/FantasticFarmer22.

The “Fantastic Farmer” title is the latest award this year supported by the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund. Including the VT Barn Painting Project and the Milk Quality Awards, the mission of the fund is to support farmer efforts to grow their business, cultivate and deliver their products to the consumer in a way that respects the heritage, culture and stewardship that our farmers and farming community strive for every day.

‘Fantastic Farmer’ Award headlines efforts to support VT farmers

Photo courtesy of VAAFM

In May, the VT Dairy Industry Association (VDIA) announced the 2021 VT Milk Quality Awards supported by the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund. The awards recognize the dairy farmers that produced VT’s best quality milk in 2021 and are designed to encourage professionalism and quality in the industry while recognizing the hard work dairy farmers contribute for VT. The awards were presented to:

  • 1st – David Houde, St. Johnsbury – $2,500
  • 2nd – Steven and Leslie Brown, East Burke – $1,500
  • 3rd – Howmars Farm/the Gates family, Franklin – $1,000

This summer, barns in Pittsfield, Hardwick, Rutland and Marshfield all received a fresh coat of paint through the VT Barn Painting Project. These barns each received a $10,000 investment from the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund. The fund also invested in a separate barn painting in Rochester to help preserve all five barns for future generations and improve their roadside appeal across VT, for their local communities, visitors and tourists.

As a project of VDOL’s VT Youth Employment Program, the VT Barn Painting Project also provides an opportunity to train the next generation of VT’s workforce. Young Vermonters can participate in a paid work experience, gaining skills to help lay the foundation for a future career. “This program is designed to help young Vermonters build skills and experience that will help them when they enter the job market. At the same time, participants are preserving these wonderful pieces of Vermont history, making this work experience even more meaningful and long lasting,” said VT Department of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington. “This project helps connect Vermont’s future with its historic past, and the Department of Labor is proud to be a part of that effort.”

“The goal of the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund is to support Vermont’s hard-working agricultural entrepreneurs and the youth helping to build our state’s economy,” said Lisa Pizzagalli. “The Pizzagalli family thanks our farmers for their hard work and look forward to these programs benefitting more agricultural families in the coming years.”

“We are grateful for the support of this fund. It’s meaningful to our youth, farmers and our rural economy. This generous program supports our working landscape and rewards farmers for their hard work,” said Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

The VT Barn Painting Project, with support from the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund and partners, will continue the program next year and beyond. Any VT barn owner who may have interest in the program should visit the Project to learn more.

To nominate or apply for the 2023 VT Fantastic Farmer Award, visit agriculture.vermont.gov/administration/fantastic-farmer-award.

To find out more about the High Quality Milk Awards, visit the VT Dairy Industry Association at agriculture.vermont.gov/document/vdia-milk-quality-award-criteria.